Friday, February 14, 2014

Throughout my life I have been criticized for a perceived lack of emotion, as if this were some absolute fault.

Do you remember in December I did an end of year survey and I maaaay have mentioned Where'd You Go, Bernadette? as an amazing book that everyone needs to read? There's a good chance The Rosie Project is going to be that book when I inevitably do a 2014 end of year survey. I am sure this is a book in my pre-blogging days I would have missed, which is sad. Well, I guess sad for alternative universe me, since this version of me did read The Rosie Project and is much better for it.

Don Tillman is a genetics professor at a university in Melbourne and he's a little odd. It's never definitively determined that he is somewhere on the Autism spectrum, although it's heavily implied. He is very literal, has difficulties understanding social cues, and follows a very regimented schedule with every minute accounted for. He has friends, though not a ton, and he's mostly happy with his life. Except he decided he'd like to get married. However, dates don't typically go well for him so he decides to go all scientific with things and create a detailed questionnaire for women to fill out so he can weed out incompatible possible mates. Sexy stuff. Thus begins The Wife Project.

The Wife Project isn't producing a lot of qualified applicants (SHOCK) so his friend and fellow professor Gene sets him up with Rosie. Although Don can't figure out WHY since she fails so much of the criteria: she smokes, is late, a vegetarian, and a barmaid. Don decides they are completely incompatible. But Rosie is more interested in finding her biological father. Something a genetic professor might be able to help with. Don offers his (and his lab's) services to help solve Rosie's mystery. But then, against all logic, Don finds himself spending more and more time on The Father Project.

And the book is so funny. I love Don... 

We survived US Immigration. Previous experience had taught me not to offer observations or suggestions, and I did not need to use my letter of recommendation from David Borenstein at Columbia University characterizing me as a sane and competent person.

...and I love the interactions between Don and Rosie.

"Wow," said Rosie. "Ever thought of being a grief counselor?"
"No. I considered a number of careers, but all in the sciences. My interpersonal skills are not strong."
Rosie burst out laughing. "You're about to get a crash course in advanced grief counseling."
It turned out that Rosie was making a sort of joke, as her approach to grief counseling was based entirely on the administration of alcohol.

I feel like it would have been easy for Don's character to become a cruel stereotype, so good job to Simsion for avoiding that. At one point he's describing growing up to Rosie and all of the doctors and psychologists he visited.

"I now believe that virtually all my problems could be attributed to my brain's being configured differently from those of the majority of humans. All the psychiatric symptoms were a result of this difference, not of any underlying disease." 

First Attachments, the Fangirl, and now this. Part of me thinks maybe I do like romantic comedies. Maybe. I'm probably not going to search them out, but I will be less skeptical of ones that come with strong recommendations from trusted sources. And hey, this is a great Valentine's Day read, so that timing worked out nicely.

Speaking of those trusted sources, since I mentioned I read this book because book bloggers brought it to my attention, I should probably highlight some of those reviews that made me want to pick this up.

Title quote from page 134, location 1627

Simsion, Graeme. The Rosie Project. Simon & Schuster, 2013. Kindle edition.